What started as a rumour has finally become reality with the news that President Jonathan has sent a bill to the National for a single tenure of six years for the President and Governors. I was not shocked by the news but certainly surprised especially when we are only two months into a 4-year mandate. A mandate that promised so much but now in danger of losing focus on the issues that really matter.
Tenure elongation is a phenomenon that has sadly become synonymous with African leaders and Nigerian leaders, past and present are major culprits. This has led me to ask what goes on in the mind of the black man, especially African leaders? Do they recognise they occupy a position that could transform lives rather than worry about the small matter of tenure? Do they really understand that the greatness of a leader is about how well and not how long they stay in office? Do they read history books, especially the legacy left by our very own Nelson Mandela? You would have imagined lessons would have been learnt judging by the fact it was not long ago former President Obasanjo failed in his attempt to get himself an illegal third term. But no, despite the fact there is a mountain of developmental issues to deal with, what seems to be more important is how long should politicians stay in office. However, we are now down this path once again, putting the cart before the horse. We have been told by the Presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, that if successful, this will take effect from 2015 and would not in any way benefit the president. Well if it won't benefit the president then surely it should not be a priority for us when there are more pressing issues to deal with, not least the current insecurity situation made worse by the Boko Haram crisis. The worry is that this will run and run for the life of this administration and rather than focus on developmental issues we will once again be bugged down discussing tenure elongation.
image source: http://openeuropeblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/cart-before-horse.html
I am not a lawyer but I know that the tenure of the president and governors is a constitutional provision which can only be changed by amending the constitution. So why send a bill to the National Assembly instead of request for a constitutional amendment? Or am I missing something here? Anyway, focus will now turn to the National Assembly and this will be the first real test for an assembly with two-thirds of whose members are new. I hope they do not waste too much time debating an issue which in my view serves only as an unwelcome distraction at a time when they should be carrying out their oversight functions of bringing sustainable development to a country that has stagnated for too long.
What this goes to show is that once again we have failed to learn from history and you wonder how we can make progress when we keep failing to look back to our past to inform our future. Nigerians are yet to know the policy thrust of the current government. Where do their immediate priorities lie? Is it in Education? Health? Public infrastructure, a combination of two or more? Nigerians have waited for too long for basic human needs and we need our leaders to get on with the difficult tasks ahead but a distraction like tenure elongation certainly won't help.
Image source: http://openeuropeblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/cart-before-horse.html